KC and Sustainable Infrastructure

You may know what the concept of infrastructure refers to, but do you know what it means for infrastructure to be sustainable? The concept refers to the design and subsequent implementation of elements in a manner that does not negatively impact the processes necessary to maintain a healthy balance of equity and functionality within a community. To put it simply, society would be unable to go on without transportation systems, power-generation facilities, or sanitation networks that balance functionality and use with preservation of the ecosystem. As a whole, sustainable infrastructure protects the environment, facilitates the healthy development of a nation’s economy, and improves the quality of life of its citizens.

Because engineering firms design and develop critical infrastructure systems, it is important that they meet certain sustainability specifications or certifications. KC strives to abide by a number of such regulations to guarantee minimal environmental impact when designing a project. In addition to regulations followed during design, KC’s inspectors are experienced in observing required environmental protections in the field. Amendments put forth in 1972 to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act mandate that firms identify a project’s potential pollutants before engaging in any stormwater work (since harmful chemicals can accumulate when stormwater is drained from an area) and devise ways to prevent those pollutants from being released. These methods are called Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs), and must also include an emergency spill response proposition with a list of procedures to follow in the event of a release. After preparing the SWPPP, KC ensures that it is in place and that environmental permitting is adhered to. Additionally, KC applies for and ensures compliance with environmental permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), and other agencies to protect the streams, wetlands, and environments surrounding various projects.

Making sure infrastructure is sustainable equates to a better world and one in which everyone works together to help the planet thrive. KC is proud to play an active role in that effort.

Visit these links to learn about some of the “green” services that KC has performed in the past:

 


Infrastructure Week, Day 4: Wastewater

Wastewater is the dirty little secret no one likes to talk about. Nevertheless, managing our nations wastewater is of the utmost importance.

No infrastructure plan is complete without wastewater management. It can impact the health of residents, strengthen or weaken the appeal of a locality, and have an effect on the environment.

As the nation’s population continues to grow, wastewater management has become increasingly crucial. Over the next 20 years, the U.S. is expected to gain more than 56 million wastewater treatment system users. This indicates the need for wastewater infrastructure improvements.

About 14,748 wastewater treatment plants currently serve nearly 240 million Americans, or 76% of the U.S. population. In its current state, our wastewater infrastructure suffers from 23,000 to 75,000 sanitary sewer overflow events every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These facts demonstrate the need for increased wastewater infrastructure funding.

At KC Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. (KC), our wastewater treatment group has designed, constructed, and helped to operate over 70 facilities. We work with government, industrial, and private clients to meet a full range of wastewater related needs. We approach each project with innovative and creative expertise to deliver comprehensive engineering services that solve the most intricate wastewater challenges from concept through design, construction, and operation.

With projects like the Tri-Municipal Sewer Commission Compost Permit Renewal, Wallkill Raw Sewage Pump Replacement, and Wappingers Falls Wappingers Falls Sanitary Sewer Pipe TV Inspections, KC has helped to increase capacity and improve the performance of existing treatment facilities. KC strives to meet strict water discharge policies, conserve energy, and reduce environmental impact.


The Sewer System’s Dirty Secrets

As a child, did you ever wonder where your goldfish went after you flushed him? Did you imagine him soaring off to sea through a single pipe that connected your toilet to the ocean? Probably.

Is that what really happened to him? Probably not. But don’t get too upset, the actual engineering behind wastewater and sewer systems is pretty interesting. In fact, your goldfish probably went on a wild ride! Whenever water or items go down the drain, they are sent through a pipe in the ground to the local sewer system. From there, gravity sends the wastewater down the sewage line towards the treatment plant.

However, most locations aren’t lucky enough to have a plant located at the bottom of a mountain. This is where the real engineering kicks in. Once the pipes get too deep, the wastewater must be pumped closer to the surface so that it can begin its descent again. These pumping stations are part of a force main sewer that pressurizes the water so that it can flow against gravity to the treatment plant at the other end.

Seems simple enough, but sometimes the lines will get clogged by miscellaneous items (like your goldfish) or rags that prevent the water from flowing. In these cases, a pig is sent from the beginning of the line to the end in order to remove the blockage. The pig is a flexible cylinder that moves through the pipes and clears any buildup or blockage it encounters. When the pig emerges from the other end, it brings all the waste with it. Check out this video titled “Sewer Wars” for an out-of-this-world description of the process.

When the water finally arrives at the treatment plant, chemicals and bacteria are used to cleanse the dirty water so that it can be sent back into the environment. After that, the cycle begins all over again.

Engineers use their skills to create complex systems that aid in the day-to-day process so seamlessly that most people don’t even know about them. But now that you do, maybe next time you’ll bring your fishy friend to the ocean yourself. That may be the one thing engineering can’t help you with.